You’re not imagining it. Your nips are DEFINITELY itchy, right… but why?

Generally, we’re all quick to jump to the ‘worst-case scenario’ when there’s any change in our breasts. But before you flip a bra hook and start freaking out, let’s look at ALL the possible causes for those itchy nipples of yours!

Turns out there are a fair few reasons why you might feel the urge to scratch. Here are 11 completely reasonable (and not at all sinister) reasons why you might have itchy nipples!


1. Jogger’s nipple

Jogger’s nipple, AKA chafe (don’t laugh), is a thing. If you do a lot of exercise or running without a bra or exercise outside in the freezing cold, there’s a whole lot of nipple friction going on under your activewear. How to address this? Wear a properly-fitting bra to minimise rubbing and add a slick of Vaseline to nipples to help lessen the friction.

2. You’re allergic to something

Itchy nipples and breasts could mean you’re having a mild allergic reaction to your new fancy moisturiser, that different washing powder you bought or the pollen in the air when you hung your bra up to dry. Hang bras inside to dry, go back to your old moisturiser and wash your bras in an allergy-friendly detergent to begin the process of elimination.

3. Pregnancy

Pregnancy gives you amazzzzzzing boobs, does it not? However, those beautiful bulging knockers bring their own set of annoyances. For example, increased blood flow and super dark veins, sensitivity, heaviness and, yep you guessed it, stretching skin (AKA stretch marks). Just like your expanding baby bump, skin stretching can cause your lady lumps to itch too! Try slathering your skin in a gentle moisturiser to help reduce the itch and, hopefully, lessen stretch marks.

4. Sunburn

Anyone who has ever had sunburnt boobs knows only too well how much they hurt. A sunburnt back, leg or foot eventually leads to crazy scratching, so it’s a given that sunburnt boobs will also mean itchy breasts and nipples. Think really carefully about sun protection versus going topless next time!

5. Heat rash

If you’re wearing a heavy duty bra, day in, day out (fellow “blessed” bosomed girls, you know what I’m talking about), your breasts can become hot, red and itchy from sweat and blocked pores, resulting in heat rash. You need to air your tatas ladies! Switch to a lightweight, cotton bra for a few days or whenever you can to calm the skin down and heal the rash.

6. You need to wash your bra

I know, I know, it’s your favourite, comfy, lived-in bra and it positively PAINS you to choose another but girlfriend, you have to wear clean bras because bacteria is the devil and causes irritation. If you’re working out and sweating it out in a sports bra, definitely change out of it and wash that sucker every day. To the laundry you go! If you’re not sweating profusely and assuming it’s not the middle of summer, you can probs get away with washing your bra every other day and still keep bacteria (and potentially itchy nipples) at bay!

causes of itchy nipples

7. Eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis

Eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis are skin conditions that require care or they’ll continue to flare up time and time again. As a result of this, you’ll likely be tearing at your itchy nipples like a crazed lunatic. (Let’s face it, that’s not a good look!) To be free of red, raised, scaly and itchy breasts and nipples, see your GP and they’ll be able to put you on the right track for dermal creams to apply (often they contain cortisone).

8. You have dry skin

Weather changes, diet changes, soap changes – any of these factors can affect your skin. Don’t stop at just moisturising your face, arms and legs after you jump out of the shower, moisturise your breasts too! Plus, don’t forget to drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain good hydration levels.

9. A breast cancer

Even though it’s extremely unlikely, breast cancer should be considered. Itchy nipples CAN be a symptom of a very rare form of breast cancer, named Paget’s disease of the breast.

Mayo Clinic says “Paget’s disease of the breast affects your nipple and usually the skin surrounding it. It’s easy to mistake the signs and symptoms of Paget’s disease of the breast for skin irritation (dermatitis) or another non-cancerous (benign) skin condition.

So, if you feel a lump, skin hardening, notice nipple discharge or anything else that you deem to be ‘different’, seek advice from your doctor. And always, always trust your gut instinct.

10. Breast cancer treatment

Of course, as if it’s not enough that your breasts turned on you with breast cancer, the radiation treatment will also cause itchiness! Radiation causes severe dryness, so keep the moisturising up to an epic standard and rock on sister!

11. Your boobs just hate your bra

It’s true, breasts are sensitive-skinned beasts. Not all fabrics are created equal in the comfort stakes, so if you’re wearing a gorgeous new lace bra and your itchy nipples feel like they’re on fire – chances are the fabric is just not right. Back to that old comfy, barely-washed bra (see #6) you go! I jest. Kind of.

Itchy nipples – be alert, not alarmed

If itchy nipples and itchy breasts are a new thing you’re experiencing, it’s most likely to be harmless. However, if you’ve checked all the things (detergents, fabrics etc) and it’s not easing up – or other symptoms develop, make an appointment to see your doctor. It’s NEVER silly to err on the side of caution. Plus if you can’t work it out, chances are your doc will!


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Author

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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